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Caralluma hesperidum, or carrion plant, photographed at Tula Plants & Design. Caralluma hesperidum, or carrion plant, photographed at Tula Plants & Design.

Caralluma hesperidum

Botanical Name —  Caralluma hesperidum

Common Name —  Carrion plant

Plant Family — Asclepiadaceae


Background


Caralluma hesperidum is a succulent native to moroccan dry regions, from the coast to the deep inland. The stems have spiney protuberances that are light green or greyish with reddish brown spots and grow by spreading in clumps. These plants are slow growing and usually start to die off from the middle outwards. Taking cuttings from the parent is encouraged so you can continue to grow.



Growth Requirements


Sun

  • Caralluma hesperidum grows best in bright indirect light but can take full direct sun or light shade.  The plants stems will tend to bronze and are likely to suffer from sun scorch or stunted growth if exposed to afternoon direct sun in the summer months. Exposure to bright light will help encourage blooms.


Temperature/ Humidity 

  • The carrion plant  likes room temperatures around 65 to 80 F.  Night time temperatures can go down to 60 F.  They like to be warm and are not cold tolerant. 

Water

  • Water when dry during the hot summer months. During the winter months, water lightly if the temperature is warm and dry indoors.  Preferable not to water on overcast days, humid days or cold winter days.   Inconsistent watering, either excessive or very scarce can induce rot. In winter, they may shrivel quite alarmingly. A fine mist spray with warm water on a sunny day helps with this, but do it early morning so the plant stems have a chance to dry.

Soil/Roots

  • These plants prefer a sandy, sharply draining mix. Cacti or succulent potting mix is great. You can amend a regular potting soil with sand or pumice up to 50% to improve grittiness and drainage. 

Flowering

  • The flower is unique and is a blackish purple quite fleshy looking star shape. The plants usually flower towards the end of summer. They are carried in clusters along the stems. The flowers are usually pollinated by flies that are attracted by the pungent smell of the flower, that is reminiscent of rotting meat hence the common name.
  • Produces the twin horned papery seed pods.

Fertilization

  • Feed once a month in the summer with a high potassium fertilizer.

Propagation

  • Propagate by seed or stem cuttings. 
  • Stem cuttings should be taken in the summer months.  Cuttings require hot temperatures in order to root. Let the cutting callus for a couple of weeks and then plant.  Cuttings must be kept very dry to root. 

Health


Diseases

  • Carrion plants are not prone to pests.
  • Root rot can be a concern and is triggered by overwatering or poor ventilation.

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • These plants like to be root bound and have very shallow root systems, and thus do not require frequent repotting. Repot every 3 years to refresh the soil.

Toxicity

  • Caralluma hesperidum are toxic to pets if ingested.  It is not known to be toxic to humans.